Matt Heath: Ditch the bags for stress-free travel

Publish Date
Tuesday, 6 November 2018, 1:59PM
NZ Herald

NZ Herald

Baggage is the worst part of travel. It's a pain from packing to checking in, to reclaiming, to repacking. But how light can you travel internationally? Nothing but carry on? What about absolutely no bags at all? In my experience the lighter you travel the better.

I fly overseas regularly with a group of friends. A few years back one of them began turning up to the airport with less and less luggage.

He peaked on a 2017 trip to Hawaii when he only took a half-full backpack. This was a 6-day tropical holiday.

The man took nearly nothing. He even wore his swimming trunks as shorts on the plane. His holiday went great. It was impressive.

In comparison I looked like a total loser at Auckland Airport with my massive 20kg roller, 10kg carry on bag and suit carry case over my shoulder.

Then at the Honolulu airport, there was a massive wait at the baggage carousel. By the time we multi-bag folk arrived at the Moana Surfrider Hotel, Jerry was sitting smugly at the beach bar enjoying his third drink.

Most people overpack. Trying to cover every eventuality. Which makes sense if you are going to Antarctica but not so much for the Goldie.

Flying with family is another story but when you're operating solo it's easy.

Just commit to wearing the same pair of pants and shoes every day and you're on your way. If there are meetings or formal occasions wear your suit and tie on the plane.

Then it's just a matter of a toothbrush, sunglasses and as many pairs of socks and undies as days you are away. Four t-shirts. Maybe something warm. Phone, charger, passport, wallet and keys. A laptop if you plan to work.

Travelling this light feels good. But what about the ultimate? Flying internationally with nothing at all.

By the time this article is published, I will have flown to Japan 100 per cent sans bags. This is how I plan to pull it off.

Your phone provides all the communication, entertainment and work apps needed. Then there's your passport, phone charger, credit card and air-buds. All of that can go in your pants pockets.

The nice shirt and jacket required can be worn on the plane. Then it's just a matter of wearing two pairs of undies with your swimming togs over the top. Two more pairs of undies and socks stuffed in your jacket pockets. Toothbrush and comb in the inside pocket along with sunglasses. Done. That's all a man needs for a seven-day trip.

Soap, shampoo, towels and face cloths will be at the hotel. To avoid fluid restrictions, buy toothpaste and deodorant at the airport when you arrive. No bags required.

You have probably noticed I've only accounted for four pairs of undies against seven days away. No problem. Add those togs into the rotation. For the other days, there are three options.

1. The flip them around and use them twice method (not as popular as it used to be).
2. The wash them on the road technique. It's easy to clean clothes at a hotel. Even easier at an Airbnb or friend's house. In fact, if you really wanted to push the boundaries, go with a two-pair rotation. One in the wash and one on you at all times. 
3. Buy extra pairs when you get there. Hiff them in the rubbish when you leave. That way you only need the pair you wear on the plane.

If you get hot and sweaty downstairs flying in two pairs of undies and togs. Join the mile high change club. Take those extra undies off when you are in the air. Then it's just a matter of sliding them into one of the provided sick bags for the rest of the fight.

Travelling with a bunch of bags is an unnecessary stress.

From the loading in and out of the Uber to check in, stowing on the plane, baggage reclaims, packing up your mess to go home, baggage claim and uber again. So why not get rid of it all?

Travel as lightly as you possibly can. It feels great. It's also a fantastic way to make your travel companions feel lame, vain, unmanly and weighed down. Scoring early points before you even take off.

Of course, if you are a drug dealer, international spy or money trafficker this isn't for you. Travelling this light attracts a lot of attention from customs.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.